Max Strohe has a passion for good produce and innovative cuisine. We asked him, together with his partner in crime, Ilona Scholl, to contribute to IRMASWORLD as new guest editors. The two are behind the much talked about new Berlin restaurant tulus lotrek, Fichtestr. 24 in Kreuzberg, which celebrates the unapologetic indulgence and only the best ingredients in unexpected pairings. So let’s pop the corks and talk shop about food, wine and life!
Is your restaurant your answer to the vegan / vegetarian / pure cuisine? Back to the Bacchanalia, so to speak?
Maybe you could say that, yes. The trend toward minimalist, subtle vegetable cuisine certainly has a point. However, it is simply not what I would personally like to eat or cook. I believe that the current hype about eating healthy, where words such as raw, healthy, organic, super food, local etc. emerge, does not only leave you wide-eyed, but also makes it impossible to find what I seek: pure indulgence. The plate in front of me has become smarter. But although we do not serve a bad conscience at our restaurant, we were sick of it. We wanted to enjoy ourselves once in a while. Trust our cooks and sommeliers. To let go. Enjoy.
Does the choice of wine determine the food or is it the other way round?
In fact, it can be both ways. I work closely together with my partner who is responsible for the wine selection and who happens to present a new wine to me every now and then that she wants to add to the wine list. When I get the wow effect, I automatically start thinking about a matching dish. There is nothing I can do about it. But most of the time I have an idea for a new dish and present it to her. While I work on the idea, she browses through the wine cellar. Then we try it out and sometimes it works immediately. In other cases, we have to keep trying.
What is your signature dish?
I do not have one and actually I do not want one. Sometimes I notice that I start getting bored with a dish when plating it, either because I have done it a thousand times or because I am not so much in love with the original idea anymore or because I am more interested in something else. Then I change the menu.
Your favorite wine?
I have a thing for fine Riesling wines from the Moselle. But I also like juicier wines from the Pfalz. Apart from that, I like to drink Scheurebe and well done pinot noir. I recently had one from the Knipser winery, I believe it was the Kirschgarten from 2007. That one was fabulous. Of course I am also a fan of wines from the Ahr since I am from that region. I also really love the pinot noir from the Adeneuer winery that we have at tulus lotrek.
How do girls like your concept of “pure indulgence“?
The pressure on women to live up to an absurd ideal is unacceptable and is against all culinary pleasures. We do not need that. It has to go. Eating dessert without feeling guilty, having a glass of wine too many or a “too” loud laugh in the restaurant. Those are ways of withstanding the pressure. That’s what we need: To let go and enjoy.
Where do you get inspired for the composition of your menu?
Everywhere. Products, music, colors, conversations. All of them can trigger a new dish. But of course other cooks influence me as well.
Which book do you currently read?
A book by Karl Ove Knausgârd.
Where do you go grocery shopping when shopping for yourself?
We set up our own business nine weeks ago. In this stage nobody goes grocery shopping for oneself. You are 16 hours per day in the restaurant and at night, when you are completely exhausted, you order at 2:30 a.m. some food from the Indian place around the corner. But before I used to go to the weekly market, Markthalle 9, Blomeyer’s Käse, Lindenberg, Lafayette etc.
BEETROOT MACARON – MALTED BUTTERCREAM & GOAT CHEESE, SHOOTS
75 ml beetroot juice
1 egg white
10 g protein powder (albumin, available at Bos Food’s)
2.5 g hibiscus powder (by Lebe Pur, available at dm)
Whisk together all ingredients and beat until stiff. Fill it in an icing bag (alternative: a freezer bag) and arrange it on the baking paper. Dry for 3 hours in the dehydrator at 75 degrees. If you don’t have a dehydrator, leave the oven door slightly open (use a cork or a cooking spoon).
50 g butter
12 g sugar
1 egg white
1 egg yolk
5 g wasabi
10 g malt extract powder (available at health food stores or Bos Food’s)
Whip up the butter with the sugar and the egg at room temperature. Add wasabi, salt and lemon juice. Gradually add the malt extract powder.
Stir the fresh goat cheese with the lemon zest and goat milk until a homogenously creamy consistency is obtained.
Put fresh goat cheese on one half of the macaron and malted buttercream on the other. Put beetroot shoots in-between and put the macaron halves together.
From the Plate to the Glass:
This dish poses a small challenge with regard to drinks it can be accompanied with. Due to the fact that the macaron consists of fine meringue and has a fluffy consistency, a bold red wine is not recommended since it would destroy the flavor of the macaron. One could imagine a Sancerre because of its minerals or a straight Pinot Gris which was not aged in barrels. Both would perfectly match the beetroot and the goat cheese. However, the spiciness and the essential oils of the wasabi give us a hard time. With a semi-sweet Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains whose nature is just as delicate as the one of the macaron, we lessen the effect of the wasabi. Before we drink it, we inhale the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains since it has a wide range of fruity aromas to offer.
(Recommendation: Georg Wambsganss, Gelber Muskateller, 2014, Pfalz)
CEVICHE – SALMON, KUMQUA, CHILI, TARRAGON, PEANUT
100 g kumquat
25 g cane sugar
10 g water
50 g orange juice
50 g gin
20 g light vinegar
Remove the seeds and dice the kumquat. Caramelize sugar and water. Add orange juice, gin and light vinegar and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling liquid over the prepared kumquat. Allow to drip off and keep the liquor.
10 g salt-reduced soy sauce
50 g kumquat liquor
10 g lime juice
5 g Rose’s lime juice
5 g tabasco
10 g olive oil
Mix all ingredients and use a blender to emulsify them.
360 g fresh salmon (without skin and fish bones)
Bring salmon to room temperature. Dice the salmon coarsely and marinate it for 3 to 5 minutes. Fold in kumquat. Add sliced tarragon, peppers and grounded peanuts depending on your taste. Season with salt if necessary.
From the Plate to the Glass:
With this dish we like to serve GIMLET at tulus lotrek since it absorbs both the gin and the citrus aromas (lime, kumquat, orange) of the ceviche, making them a well-matched couple. Besides, the fish dish is listed under “bar food” on the menu. Therefore, it can also be matched with a cocktail.
5 cl gin (e.g. Tanqueray no. 10)
5 cl Rose’s lime juice
Put ice into a mixing glass, add gin and lime juice. Stir with a long dessert spoon until the mixture has cooled and the glass is frosted at the outside. Strain the cocktail into a cocktail glass (this means that solely the ice remains in the mixing glass and that the liquid goes into the cocktail glass). Fold the lime zest, so that the essential oils go into the drink. Rub lime zest on the glass rim before adding it to the cool and delicious drink.